The Office of Foreign Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury recently issued sanctions against two companies and ten individuals that were associated with a ransomware group.
This group is linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran and the bitcoin wallet addresses associated with them were also blocked.
The US Treasury Department said that the entities and individuals that they had added to the list of sanctions had been involved in ransomware attacks.
It said that they had targeted a number of companies and organizations based in the United States since 2020.
Ransomware attacks involve hackers locking a network or computer remotely by exploiting the flaws in the software and then demanding payment for unlocking.
These payments are usually demanded in crypto because tracking them can be difficult as opposed to other digital payment methods, even though blockchain networks like Bitcoin are quite transparent.
According to officials of the Treasury, the American targets of the Iranian groups included a city in New Jersey, a children’s hospital, a rural electric utility firm and several other businesses.
They also identified the individuals as associates or employees of Afkar System Yazd Company and Najee Technology Hooshmand Fater LLC.
Since the alleged attackers and their businesses have now been added to the list of OFAC sanctions, it means that American companies and citizens cannot interact with them anymore.
This includes the Bitcoin wallet addresses associated with the names of the alleged owners. Other than the sanctions imposed by OFAC, charges were also brought against three individuals.
These included Ahmad Khatibi Aghda, Mansour Ahmadi and Amir Hossein Nikaeen Ravari, who were charged in relation to the ransomware attack by the US Attorney Office in New Jersey.
A reward of $10 million is being offered by the state of New Jersey to anyone who offers information related to these individuals.
This move from the Treasury comes after their recent decision to sanction the Tornado Cash coin mixing tool back in August, which was developed for obscuring the movements of cryptocurrencies.
According to the Treasury, the Ethereum mixing tool had been used for laundering money, which includes stolen crypto funds.
But, similar to other decentralized applications, the mixing tool is not operated by a company or people and it runs anonymously through a programmed smart contract.
This decision has proven to be quite controversial and has drawn a lot of criticism from all over the crypto community.
In fact, even US Representative Tom Emmer had also questioned the move. This week, the Treasury had decided to offer some clarification about their stance on the ban of Torando Cash.
It noted that people who had been sent funds linked to Tornado Cash without consent would not have to face any consequences.
It also offered those with funds locked in the application with a way to access their money, as long as the funds are not associated with any sanctioned activity.
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